UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks on strengthening trade exchange between the two countries to stimulate investment between them.
The meeting on the sidelines of the “Economic Forum for the East” organized by Russia to try to develop its vast Far East, will be an opportunity for the Kremlin to emphasize that there are other trade partners, while relations between Moscow and Western countries remain at the lowest levels.
“Increased mutual investment” and “energy cooperation” top the agenda, Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters. Trade between the two countries did not exceed $ 11 billion in 2018.
“Indian investments in Russia’s Far East will be the main topic of this meeting,” Alexei Kupriyanov, an analyst at the Institute for World Economics and International Relations in Moscow, told AFP. “Moody’s invitation to this forum is not a coincidence.”
Before their meeting, Putin and Modi will visit the Zvezda shipyard near Vladivostok, where warships and giant oil tankers are being built.
Moody and Putin have long had a friendly relationship. “We are sitting together, discussing, walking together and talking. There is a special harmony, especially spontaneity in our relationship,” Moody said in an interview with Russia’s TASS news agency and the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper on the eve of the forum.
Modi said the agenda of the discussions also included the environment and the rescue of tigers, an issue “of interest” to President Putin.
– “Give a new payment” –
Moscow and New Delhi, which were close to the Soviet era, have in recent years revived tense relations 25 years ago. But cooperation remains essentially military.
On this point, Moscow hopes to finalize the delivery of India “226-T” helicopters equipped with French “Safran” engines, of which 40 units were produced on Russian soil and 140 in India by a joint Russian-Indian company.
The $ 1 billion contract was supposed to have been signed between Russian company Rachan Helicopters and the Indian army in 2018, but that has not yet been done.
“The technical negotiations are over,” said Andrei Bogensky, chairman of the board of the Russian group “Rustik”, to which Vladivostok belongs, to reporters in Vladivostok. He said the deal would likely be “on Indian soil”.
During a visit to the pavilions of the East Economic Forum, Moody and Putin will be presented with a Ka-226T helicopter that read “Produce in India,” in an appeal to “our Indian partners,” Boginski said.
“We hope that the meeting between Putin and Modi in Vladivostok will give new impetus to the Ka-226T project,” Viktor Kladov told reporters last week.
India, one of the world’s biggest arms-buying nations, is a key partner of Russia, whose defense industry seeks to maintain its position as the world’s second-largest vendor despite sanctions imposed since the Ukrainian crisis in 2014.
The Indian army is currently making extensive efforts to modernize its old and insufficient weapons to counter geopolitical changes in the region.
In October, India and Russia signed a contract for New Delhi to buy S-400 air defense systems worth 5.2 billion dollars for Vladimir Putin’s visit. Russian and Indian officials have said delivery of the systems will start in 2023.
The deal was struck despite US warnings that India was subjecting itself to economic sanctions.
In fact, US law provides for sanctions against any country or entity that buys Russian weapons, with the aim of punishing Moscow for its position in Ukraine and its supposed interference in the US presidential election.
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